Languages and Idiolects: Their Language and Ours

James Higginbotham

in The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Language

Published in print September 2008 | ISBN: 9780199552238
Published online September 2009 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Philosophy

Languages and Idiolects: Their Language and Ours


An idiolectal conception of language is compatible with a substantive role for external things — objects, including other people — in the characterization of idiolects. Illustrations of this role are not hard to come by. The point of looking outward from the individual is pretty evident for the case of reference to perceptually encountered objects: had the world been significantly different, a person with the same molecular history would have acquired, and called by the same familiar names, different physical and other concepts. An idiolectal conception of language is by no means committed, and has some reason to be opposed, to internalism, and to individualism in Burge's sense; that is, to the view that the organization of the body, abstracting from external things, is constitutive of any linguistically significant aspect of language.

Keywords: idiolects; conception of language; internalism; individualism; linguistics; thought; meaning

Article.  4489 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy ; Philosophy of Language

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